FA Cup Final Collapse Must Ring Defensive Alarm Bells for Chelsea & Frank Lampard (Again)

Lampard will be disappointed by his side’s defending in their 2-1 defeat to Arsenal | ADAM DAVY/Getty Images

The most frustrating and mind-boggling people are often those who live in denial.

They spend their days in a dream world, ignoring the massive flaws in their life, their relationships, their personality, and choose to push on and put all the advice you offer in the bin. Chelsea are the footballing equivalent of this nightmare of a human.

Mikel Arteta, Hector BellerinMikel Arteta, Hector Bellerin
Chelsea players look dejected at the final whistle | Pool/Getty Images

The Blues are wonderfully entertaining, brilliant on the ball and swashbuckling on the offensive. But even those flashes of genius can’t mask the true defensive deficiencies that are eating the team alive.

These frailties came back to bite them in the behind on Saturday, having produced 25 minutes of superb football, only to then surrender their lead and, subsequently, implode. Arsenal pipped their London rivals in a 2-1 victory, cancelling out Christian Pulisic’s exquisite opener with two Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang strikes.

And despite the obvious gap in talent in certain areas on the pitch, and the 10 point-chasm in the league table, none of us were really surprised by the final result. Why?

Because Chelsea can’t defend.

Lampard has a specific style of play which he insists on enforcing, but that swagger comes at a price. With the face and torso of a lion, but the rear and tail of a house cat, this team is so contradictory it beggars belief.

Individually, the back three are not good enough. Collectively, they’re even worse. Kurt Zouma and Antonio Rudiger were pulled from pillar to post on Saturday, while Cesar Azpilicueta was put out of his own misery by picking up an injury, while attempting to chase the rapid Aubameyang.

There was no chemistry, no understanding and more worryingly, no cover for the backline. Time and time again, Arsenal worked the same openings, the same training ground moves, and the Blues didn’t catch the hints being dropped.

It was only a matter of time before the irrepressible Aubameyang took the game by the scruff of its neck, and he did so in the second half, scoring a beautiful winner following lung-busting run by Hector Bellerin.

Zouma did not cover himself in glory, rightly showing the Gabonese forward onto his weaker foot, but then forgetting to actually follow him and do his job afterwards. It was a wonderful goal, but not one that the French defender will want to see again.

In fairness to the centre-back, he had initially been trying to cover an abyss at the heart of the defence, once his partners in crime had gone on walkabouts. But how can this be possible, when Chelsea had matched the Gunners three versus three in defence?

It simply shouldn’t be happening.

With these glaring failures and frailties within the side, you’d think the Blues would be rushing to do something about it. Well, one Timo Werner and one Hakim Ziyech later, there is still no sign of a defensive upgrade.

And as the weeks go by, rumours only grow stronger of Chelsea chucking their cash at forward Kai Havertz to come in and provide another attacking option. Get the hint guys, you’ve got bigger fish to fry.

That’s all without even mentioning Kepa Arrizabalaga either.

Without any summer signings in the centre-back department though, these attacking stars will be wasted. Sure, Chelsea will win games, often handsomely. But when the clutch matches against the other quality sides arrive, the Blues will be caught chasing their tails.

It’s a problem which is so easy to fix, but whether Lampard and Co will heed the advice is another question entirely.


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